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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

One forces one's way into the crowded bazaar


The

majority of the older Jews are illiterate, but not unintelligent. Each city has one or more Rabbis or priests, but they have no power and receive a good share of the insults in the Persian bazaars.

Whatever feeling of repulsion towards the race one may have, the position of the Jews in Persia--although infinitely better than it was before--is still a most pathetic one.

CHAPTER XXIX

The square of Isfahan--The Palace gate--The entrance to the bazaar--Beggars--Formalities and etiquette--The bazaar--Competition--How Persians buy--Long credit--Arcades--Hats--Cloth shops--Sweet shops--Butchers--Leather goods--Saddle-bags--The bell shop--Trunks.

The great square of Isfahan is looked upon as the centre of the city. It is a huge oblong, with the great and beautiful dome of the Mesjid-i-Shah on one side of the long rectangle, and another high domed mosque with two high minarets at the end. The very impressive red and white quadrangular palace gate, flat-topped, and with a covered blue verandah supported on numerous slender columns, stands on the side of the square opposite the Mesjid-i-Shah mosque.

To the north of the great square one enters the bazaar by a high gate, handsomely tiled with flower ornamentations; this gateway has three lower windows

and a triple upper one, and a doorway under the cool shade of the outer projecting pointed archway. To the right of the entrance as one looks at it, rises a three-storied building as high as the gate of the bazaar. It has a pretty upper verandah, the roof of which is supported on transverse sets of three wooden columns each, except the outer corner roof-supports, which are square and of bricks. In front is an artistic but most untidy conglomeration of awnings to protect from the sun pedlars, merchants and people enjoying their kalians, or a thimbleful of tea.

There are men selling fruit which is displayed upon the dirty ground, and there are tired horses with dismounted cavaliers sleeping by their side, the reins fastened for precaution to a heavy stone or slung to the arm. One sees masses of children of all ages and conditions of health, from the neatly attired son of the wealthy merchant, who disports himself with his eldest brother, to the orphan boy, starving, and in rags covered with mud. There is a little cripple with a shrunken leg, and further, an old man with lupus in its most ghastly form. Disreputably-clothed soldiers lie about in the crowd, and a woman or two with their faces duly screened in white cloths may be seen.

The sight of a sahib always excites great curiosity in Persia. Followed by a crowd of loafers and most insistent beggars, one forces one's way into the crowded bazaar, while the ghulams of the Consulate--without whom it would be indecorous to go anywhere--shove the people on one side or the other without ceremony, drive the donkeys, laden with wood or panniers of fruit, into the shops--much to the horror of the shopman,--and disband the strings of mules and the horsemen to make room for the passing sahib.


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